Fairfield (7-24) vs. Saint Peter's (13-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 6, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: None. Home Record: Fairfield 5-9, Saint Peter's 8-5. Away Record: Fairfield 2-13, Saint Peter's 5-11. Neutral Record: Fairfield 0-2, Saint Peter's 0-0. Conference Record: Fairfield 4-16, Saint Peter's 9-11. Series Record: Fairfield leads, 54-51.
GAME NOTES: Postseason play has arrived for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, as the 10th-seeded Fairfield Stags go up against the seventh- seeded Saint Peter's Peacocks in the first round of the 33rd annual event at the MassMutual Center.
Fairfield, a team which has failed to win back-to-back games this entire year, is actually coming off a 78-74 victory versus Marist on Friday night to close out the regular-season slate. The win was the second in the last four games for the team, the second-best four-game stretch of the season for a Stags group that shot only 39.7 percent from the floor over the course of 31 decisions.
As for the Peacocks, they seemed to get on track in the final weeks of the season by winning four straight and six of the last eight decisions, losing only to Iona and Quinnipiac, two of the top three programs in the MAAC. However, it should be noted that the opponents over the last couple of weeks have not exactly been the cream of the crop in the league, including Marist, Monmouth, Niagara and the Stags, all of whom finished in the bottom six of the standings and are playing in the first round of the tournament today.
The Stags currently own a 54-51 advantage in the all-time series between the squads according to Saint Peter's sources. In conference tournament play, this will be the 10th meeting all-time, with Fairfield clinging to a 5-4 advantage.
Both programs have won this tournament three times, but while the Peacocks last hoisted the trophy just three years ago with a five-point victory over Iona, Fairfield has gone without accolades since 1997's win against Canisius. But make no mistake, the Stags are no strangers to success in this event recently, playing in the title tilt in both 2010 and 2012.
The winner of tonight's matchup will move on to the quarterfinals on Saturday and face off against second-seeded Manhattan.
Fairfield, which lost both regular-season meetings to the Peacocks, albeit by just one point each time, won a total of just two games in 17 tries away from home, which means playing in Springfield will be another difficult endeavor. The Stags finished next-to-last in scoring with only 63.5 ppg, but at the same time the program was second in scoring defense (70.2 ppg), even though it left the squad 10th in the league in scoring differential (-6.7). From an offensive standpoint, Marcus Gilbert was responsible for 14.1 ppg, followed by Maurice Barrow with 14.0 ppg.
Selected to the All-MAAC Third Team, Marvin Dominique was the best that the Peacocks had to offer when it came to offense this season. A native of New Jersey, Dominique led the program in both scoring (16.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg), starting all but one of the team's 29 contests. He shot a solid 47.5 percent from the field and 74.4 percent at the free-throw line for a squad that came in at 69.8 percent on the campaign, but he didn't always handle the ball cleanly. More specifically, while Dominique wasn't meant to be one of the passers on the unit, the fact that he had just 18 assists against 66 turnovers was an issue. Desi Washington, a mere 37.3 percent shooter from the floor, chipped in with another 13.6 ppg and Trevis Wyche (8.3 ppg) tried to keep the offense in motion with 114 assists over his 29 starts.
Last season these two teams also collided in the first round of the tournament, with the Stags taking a 54-47 win in order to move on. When you take into account that Fairfield lost by a combined two points in the two meetings this season, the team should have enough confidence to believe it can get over the hump tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fairfield 69, Saint Peter's 65
03/06 10:29:27 ET